Helen’s Highly Sensitive Person’s Guide To.. New Year’s Eve

Photo by Eternal Happiness on Pexels.com

Hello Lovelies,

If you’re anything like me, you hate New Year’s Eve, It’s supposed to be a good time, a happy time, and yet, you hate it.

For me, New Year’s Eve is always full of several kinds of anxiety. First of all, there’s anticipatory anxiety – What will happen at midnight? Where will I be? What will I be doing? What if I don’t have a drink to toast? What if I really, really need the toilet and the I’m glued to the loo when the clock strikes midnight? What if my husband is and I have nobody to kiss? All kinds of wonderful thoughts and feelings.

Then there is hypochondria when the bell tolls midnight – How do I feel? What do I feel? Do I feel differently? Will I still be here next New Year’s Eve? I don’t feel anything, who even am I? Am I dying, or fading into non-existence?

Then comes the noise intolerance – The fireworks! Oh god, the fireworks! Why are they so LOUD?! This isn’t a celebration, this is a bunch of drunken idiots in a frickin’ warzone. I’m three martinis away from believing it, which would result in a full-blown panic attack. Nothing about this is fun!

Finally, there is the social anxiety. If you’re like me then you love hugs, on YOUR terms! When said bunch of drunken idiots (who we call ‘family and friends’ on the remaining 364 days of the year) grab at you for that all-important hug and kiss, you feel nothing short of violated. Wet, drunken kisses on your cheeks from 3 aunts and half of your street is never a comfortable feeling. You never think to stop for a selfie, but now everyone you know wants one so they can post it on Instagram.

The worst of all is the New Year’s Eve party invite, Dear god, the party invite. Being stranded the other side of town with a bunch of people who I mostly don’t know and far, far away from my comfortable bed is not a Happy New Year!

Yeah, I hate New Year’s Eve. Maybe you love it, or maybe, like me, you don’t.

This year, I made a promise to myself that I will treat myself with loving kindness. I know what your thinking, but loving kindness doesn’t mean we go out and hug trees. Loving kindness means allowing yourself to have and to do the things that you like, and you love to do. With that in mind, here are some of my favourites.

  1. Eat The Foods That You Enjoy

You’ve promised yourself that you’ll start a new diet in the new year, and that’s great, but one last bit of self indulgence won’t hurt. You don’t need to plan a four-course dinner with more calories than days that you’ve been alive, a sirloin steak and with homestyle chunky chips and peas won’t kill you.

2. On A Similar Note, Eat Foods That Nourish You

Pizza, chicken nuggets and a pint of Coca Cola may be all too tempting, but they won’t leave you feeling good. HSPs are sensitive to sugar highs and lows, so be sure to eat something that won’t make your blood sugars go crazy. Lean protein and wholesome carbohydrates are a good choice, especially if you’re drinking.

3. Drink As Much As You Want To Drink

I don’t get along well with alcohol, that’s the sad truth. I don’t like the dizzy feeling and it does nothing good with my anxiety. If you don’t like alcohol, don’t drink it! If you only want a little bit, that’s cool too! Anybody who forces you to drink is not your friend.

4. Don’t Go If You Don’t Want To

One of the most surprising things I’v learned this year is how many people hate New Year’s Eve. If you hate it that much, why go to your friend’s party? A good friend will understand. Offer to catch up in the New Year once it’s all over instead.

5. Tune in, Tune out

Hate fireworks? Me too. So how about tuning them all out? Nobody says you have to stay up and watch or listen to the fireworks, so draw the curtains, pop in some eatphones and listen to your favourite music, I really love Skullcandy Jibs In-Ear Headphones for their amazing soundproof seal.

6. New Year, New You

We all say it, don’t we? But why not start the new year with a good old pamper session? If a party isn’t your thing, why not pamper instead? Have a soak with some lovely scented bath oils, or try one of my favourite meditations and imagine the old you rinsing away while you shower.

7. Two’s Company, Three’s A Crowd

Maybe you want to celebrate with someone, but you find parties really, really intimidating? Why not celebrate with just one or two close people? Nobody says you haven’t celebrated New Year’s Eve unless you went to the biggest party in town, and even with only one other person, you can still party on down.

8. Party For Pets

Why does your company need to be human? If you have a dog or cat who hates fireworks, you have the ultimate excuse. Draw the curtains, play some loud music (to drown out the fireworks) and party on! Remember, there are fireworks outside anyway, so your neighbour’s probably won’t be sleeping.

9. Not Here New Year’s

One of the best and greatest ideas I heard of this year came from Matt’s former line manager. She has two adorable Jack Russells (I’ve met them) who hate fireworks, so every New Year’s they make for a pet-friendly coastal getaway. It’s an expensive solution, but if antics at home are really that noisy and scary, why not escape from it for a few days?

10. Busy Doing Nothing, Sleeping The New Year Through

Last on my list is sort of what I plan to be doing. If you’re a go-getter like I am, then you love nothing more than an excuse to get some good ol’ fashioned sleep! If you hate New Year’s Eve that much, why not do what thousands of working individuals will be doing and swapping the hors d’ouvres for eight hours? Nobody says you have to be up partying..

Don’t forget, some people really do want to party and so if your family or friends want to celebrate, please don’t guilt them into going party-free 🙂

Whatever you get up to, I hope you have a lovely evening!

Helen xx

What To Do When You’ve Been Ghosted

Good Afternoon Lovelies,

You may remember last week I wrote a post, You Don’t Own Me, in which I shared with you my recent experiences with a penpal who I wasn’t really feeling, but then she tried telling what to do. Given that I’d never actually met this penpal, I assumed that blocking and deleting all forms of contact would be perfectly fine, but I’d be wrong.

Yesterday, I woke up to another email from her, under another email address.

What the hell?

When I actually checked my emails, it was not one email, but three. In my spam folder, under the email address that I’d previously blocked, was another two emails. In total, I had five new emails, from the same person.

I kid you not, I wanted to bury my head in my hands, and I wanted to pull my face off. Five emails (two of which were super long) in a week was just painful. It was like the dreaded double-text, but 2.5x worse.

Why People Ghost

Make no mistake, people ghost for a number of reasons and it’s really hard to pinpoint exactly one cause. Sometimes it’s them, sometimes it’s you, sometimes it’s even both of you. Ghosting also happens between friends and relationships, and if it happens, there are things that you can do.

In this case, I chose to ghost simply because I felt trying to say “this isn’t working out” wouldn’t have worked without the guilt of seriously hurting my empathic penpal’s feelings, even if she’d already hurt my own. Sitting down and penning out a response would also take considerable time out of my day, time that I could be using for even bigger things, like blogging. In the end, owing to the fact that she’d already hurt me, I hoped that some self-reflection might serve to help her realise what she’d done to cause me to abandon ship. Unfortunately, that wasn’t the case.

  1. Give it time

Before you jump to and conclude that you’ve been ghosted, allow some time. Sometimes people are really busy with their own lives and may not be able to respond to you right away. Don’t bombard them with messages as that can make you seem really clingy and desperate. Understand that your friend probably isn’t using their phone right now, and if they haven’t ghosted you, they will get back to you (probably with an explanation) at a time that is convenient for them. Imagine if a relative got taken into hospital and you were visiting them regularly, or you were studying hard for an exam. Would you want to be distracted regularly by messages? The same applies.

2. Follow up

Okay, so it’s been a few days and you still haven’t heard from them. A simple “hi, how are you? Is everything ok?” will be plenty to let a friend know that you care, and a ghoster know that you are still interested. Dare I say it. but most ghosters (myself included) will delete and ignore the message as we simply are no longer interested. With that said, if you don’t get a response (or you get a ‘read’ notification but no reply after another few days), at least you know where you stand.

3. Accept

Acceptance is the really hard part because really, nobody likes to be cut out and ignored. It can harm our feelings of worth and yet the simple matter is, your worth just isn’t suited to the ghoster. For whatever reason, the ghoster has decided that they no longer wish to stay in contact with you and has moved on with their lives. When you’re forced to accept that reality, it can bring about painful feelings of unworthiness. Know that these feelings are temporary, and focusing on your good qualities can help allay them.

4. Reflect

Sometimes, there is something to be learned in being ghosted. Did you say something rude? Were you offensive? Did you overstep the boundaries? (Yes guys, that includes sending photos of your junk). Take some time to look back over the conversation prior to being ghosted and try to work out where it went wrong. If nothing else, it gives you some valuable insights for next time.

5. Move on

The last part of the process is simply to move on. Bombarding the ghoster with messages won’t get them to change their mind and may even serve to secure their reasons for cutting contact with you. It does take time, but there are plenty of people out there looking for a date or a new friend, and plenty of people who are better suited to you.

I’ve been ghosted, too

Let me conclude this blog post by saying that I’ve been ghosted too, numerous times in fact. In the most recent scenario, it happened using the very same penpal app (SLOWLY). I had a smashing and frequent back and forth with a young man, but upon his learning that I am married, I was suddenly greeted with radio silence. I’ve also been ghosted during a perfectly normal conversation when that “can I see what you look like?” question comes up. Even if I’m not looking for anything romantically, I have no qualms about people seeing my mugshot because hey, it’s me, I’m human and sometimes it helps to get to know the person that you are talking to. Well, for whatever reason, at that point they decide that I am no longer screwable and they go, regardless of the conversation that we were having. If someone ghosts you because of your photo, please do not, ever, think it’s about you. They are shallow, vain people with no real worth to your life anyway, other than to show you that you are better off without them.

So there you have it, a 5 point guide to getting over being ghosted. I hope that it helps you if it ever happens to you 🙂

Stay well folks!

Helen xx

An important added piece: I haven’t included this in the bulk of this post because it’s sort of not about ghosting, however, it is still equally important for personal safety and security. In one of the emails that my penpal sent me, she included her mobile number. Please, please, unless you are meeting someone, never give out your mobile phone number. There are some awful individuals out there who will post it on the darkest corners of the internet and you will be solicited with all kinds of bad material and spam calls. Stay safe, and only give your mobile phone number to the people that you are meeting in person.

Helen’s HSP Survival Guide – 18 Tips To Help You Cope!

Hello Lovelies,

I received a letter on SLOWLY last night from a lady who, like me, considers herself to have an empathic/highly sensitive nature. While she was in a bit of a slump, I realised that it’s not only her nor me that experience these lows. Unfortunately, all empaths and Highly Sensitive People are predisposed to extreme highs and lows that perhaps go with feeling more intensely than most people do.

In my relationship, it’s not only me that is an empath/HSP. My husband also has a highly sensitive nature and perhaps that’s what allows us to be able to have a beautiful, vibrant relationship full of adventures and new experiences. Unfortunately, with his ability to appreciate the finer things in life, he is also prone to anxiety, depression and feelings of overwhelm.

So with that in mind, here are 18 tips that have really helped me cope with being a HSP:

  1. Write

I was advised to keep a journal as part of my therapy, but you know what? Writing is just something I do now. My dearly beloved calls me “Jane Austen” because I write, and I write, and I write a bit more! I love writing! And as an empath, you might, too. Buy a diary to keep your thoughts in, or try an online encrypted journal like Penzu.

2. Listen to music

This is one of my favourites and I find it best works if you really ‘feel’ the song. My current favourites include “Big Spender” by Kiana Lede, which is really upbeat and talks about having enough money not to be impressed by a guy’s wealth) and Sia’s “Unstoppable”, which talks about having to put on a brave face and not be seen as weak.

3. Breathe

This was a piece of advice my mother always gave me, just take a deep breathe in, hold it, release slowly. and repeat It’s simple, but surprisingly powerful.

4. Get out in nature

The practice of Shinrin-yoku (forest bathing) has been a huge game-changer for me, and even just 30 minutes of walking through the woods can really help, I know when the weather is bad because I don’t go for my walks, and when I don’t go for my walks, I feel more anxious and restless as a result.

5. Get plenty of rest

Rest, even if not sleep, is so important to empaths and HSPs. We get exhausted easily, and exhaustion means our patience and good mood decreases. I personally sleep about 6 hours at night, with a half hour nap in the afternoon (bi-phasic sleeper). Although I don’t get my full eight hours, I usually find that I don’t need it. Most people need 7-9 hours sleep, so find what works for you.

6. Laugh often

This is so important because I find laughter really helps to relieve the overwhelming feelings that come with life’s problems. Not only does laughter help resolve stress, but it’s also proven to help combat anxiety and depression and decrease blood pressure. So laugh, and laugh often.

7. Eat well

It’s easy to live on all that’s not good for us, but if you’re diet is a steady flow of pizza, friend chicken and soda, you won’t be feeling great. Sugar, fats, salts and additives can wreak havoc on your nervous system, so do be sure to have the bad stuff only in balance and in moderation. Skinless chicken, eggs, green steamed veggies, tomatoes and peppers are all great, tasty things to be eating, too.

8. Limit stimulants

Caffeine, nicotine and drugs are all stimulants for a reason, they stimulate you. Your nervous system is frazzled as it is, and still you frazzle it with even more stimulation? Take a break and your body will thank you.

9. Drink the right stuff

Water! Lots and lots of water! We all know how this works, but if not, water helps to flush the bad stuff out of your body which leads to a calmer you. My favourite ways include fruit cordials (“squash”, here in the UK) and herbal teas. Twinings SuperBlend Calm is my current favourite and it’s completely caffeine-free.

10. Talk & share

Poor Matt. Poor, poor Matt. Talking and sharing can be great for empaths and you can often gain valuable insights from speaking to other people. Unfortunately for Matt, he usually has to listen to me whittle on for hours. Regardless, a problem shared is a problem halved, so you should always make time to talk.

11. Keep warm/cool

I am extremely sensitive to temperature changes and too much heat will make me feel panicky, while too much cold will make me feel tired and depressed. If you’re like I am, make sure you wrap up warm in colder months and flake off in the summer heat. A nice cooling fan and water mist can really help cool down an overheated nervous system.

12. Make time to unwind

Whether it be in a hot bath or with a good book, make some time for you. My treat is always a nice long, hot shower. It’s sort of a meditative practice, I imagine letting all of my troubles just roll off of me and down the drain. Whatever works to help you unwind, do it. Frequently.

13. Try natural healing

Massage, aromatherapy, relaxation tapes.. For me, I love ASMR, or Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response. If you’re hightly sensitive, you may experience “the tingles”, too. They’re a great thing to explore if you’re looking for ways to feel calm.

14. Cut out toxic people (and triggers)

I’ve written a post before about ghosting and toxic people, but if someone is only adding negativity to your life, wave them cheerio. If they don’t add to your life, why should you be adding to theirs? Your time is far too important to be wasting on people who aren’t worthy.

In a similar vein, a therapist once told me “if you don’t want to do it and don’t need to do it, don’t”. I don’t like horror movies or action movies, so I just.. don’t watch them. If something bothers you and you don’t need to do it, don’t do it!

15. Make time for your hobbies

What’s that one thing you like to do, but just don’t seem to get time for? Well, now you can make time for it. If everybody else is entitled to time to bake, sew and play computer games, so are you!

16. Learn to say no

As an empath, learning to say no can be extremely difficult and yet it so important to do. We can get so bogged down in the wants and needs of other people and then end up wondering why we have no time for ourselves. Saying no doesn’t make you a bad person, it just means that you recognise your own limitations. There is nothing wrong with that!

17. Consider therapy

I make no bones about the fact that I have been through therapy, several times, in fact. If you need it, therapy is a great tool to have available. You won’t lie on a couch why a therapist ponders over your symptoms and they won’t ask “how does that make you feel?” to every thought or memory you have. Therapists aren’t trying to help you unearth childhood traumas that might be behind an annoying habit, they are there to help you look differently at the thoughts you have been having, and to look at ways of changing your relationship with them. If you suffer with anxiety or depression, I’d highly recommend therapy over medication, any day.

18. Above all else, learn to love yourself

Your empathic, highly sensitive nature is a gift and a burden. Being sensitive means you’re more likely to cry and soppy movies, but you’ll also find extensive beauty where others don’t see it, and that’s a great thing! Instead of kicking yourself and wondering why you’re so damn sensitive, remember, you have a gift to connect with others and and an ability to see beauty in all kinds of situations, and that’s a trait that not everyone possesses.

Stay well and keep smiling, folks.

Helen xx

My Help On Monday: Criticism- How To Give It, How To Take It (And Two Times I Was Harshly Criticised)

Last week, Matt and I visited The Inn On The Green, and then reviewed our experience following our visit. As is standard procedure, I write two reviews- one for my blog, and a shorter summary that I post on TripAdvisor, no biggie.

Now, experiences at The Inn On The Green weren’t exactly stellar. As a reviewer, I can only be honest and say what I did and didn’t enjoy, and that’s all I set out to do.

So when I saw the response from the manager to my original review, I was quite surprised.

Most managers that I have reviewed have taken any criticism on the chin, taken my pointers on board and gone back to work unscathed. Not this guy.

According to him, I fabricated dishes and I was hard to please. He pretty much chewed me out for being among the 5% of people who weren’t satisfied with how his pub operates.

Yeesh, now it’s personal.

For a moment, it took my husband and a few deep breaths to stop me bouncing onto my laptop and bashing out exactly what I thought of him. It wouldn’t have resolved the issue, but I would have definitely felt more relieved.

But then it struck me, his excessive use of (sometimes multiple) exclamation marks struck a chord.

This wasn’t about me, this was about him.

Him, and the way he handled criticism.

Badly.

Let me be honest, there are two British celebrities that really resonate with me. Heck, I’d even go as far as to say that they inspire me.

Simon Cowell, and Gordon Ramsay.

Not exactly ‘nice’ guys. Agreed?

But you see, once you get past that tough cookie exterior, they are among some of the nicest, most thoughtful, most genuine people you could ever meet.

And I’m pretty much the same.

I can be a bitch, and I can be a complete asshole. But I’m a bitch and an asshole because I want to see you win and I want to see you succeed. I’m not going to sugar-coat things.

Just like Simon Cowell and Chef Ramsay.

Two Times That I Was Criticised

Make no mistake, I am human, and as a human, it means I am fair game to critique. If you want to criticise what I do and you have a good reason to, feel free! In fact, I welcome your criticism because it allows mo to shape the way I do things and make my blog better for you. Go ahead and criticise me!

Story 1: My Writing Club Story

When I joined my local writing club, I was really hopeful to make lots of fellow writer friends. There were 5 of us, three elderly ladies, one younger girl and me. One of the older ladies was the group leader, and she sort of decided what we were going to do, or what we would write about.

Very early in, I realised that we all had very different writing styles. The young girl liked to write about growing up in Africa, two of the ladies wrote poetry, the leader lady wrote prose and then there was me – who wrote pieces aim to assist, guide and inspire. Leadership stuff.

For whatever reason, the leader lady gave us all ‘homework’ to do at the end of the first week, we all had to write a piece of prose about someone we knew, without saying who that person was.

So, I wrote a piece about my neighbour.

It wasn’t a particularly nice piece, sure, but I wanted to convey the emotion that I felt. I wanted to convey the disgust and detest I felt for him for the way he would stand in front of me and lie so frequently and so prolifically. I had some strong emotions about him, and I took that chance to get them out.

She hated it.

It wasn’t prose at all, she said. But the emotion was there. My detest for my neighbour was apparent.

So, then, even if it wasn’t prose, it was still something.

Emotional, powerful. Hey, that was okay.

Each person in the group was told how bad their work was, they were each, in turn, criticised for the work that they produced. Even the poets who struggled the least with the challenge were told how they could improve. At that point I realised that nothing short of perfect prose would be good enough and I decided to disregard her feedback. I don’t write in poetic styles anyway, so that was fine for me.

Although I’ve never been back, my reaction to her criticism was to calmly and quietly leave the group at the end of the session, and vow never to return. I didn’t attack her, I didn’t berate her and I didn’t shut down to everyone else. I just decided it wasn’t the right place for me, and left.

The last that I heard, the leader lady has now left and the group is now led by someone else. Of what I’ve heard, they’re also doing quite well producing articles for our monthly local newspaper, so kudos to them.

Story 2: A Bad Joke

Sat on the seafront in Northern Cornwall, my brother pointed out the sun and said that the sun was in the sky. Amused by his pointing out the obvious, I made a bad attempt at trying to be funny.

“Is that what it is? I thought it was a giant ball of fire.”

I know, I know, it was painful.

“Well yeah, that’s exactly what it is” he said bluntly.

Yeah, that’s exactly what it is. Awkward.

“I’m sorry sis, but if that was what you call humour then.. wow”

Wow yourself!

I was deeply aggrieved and possibly rightly offended. He just didn’t criticise my joke. He criticised me.

Criticism: How To Take It, How To Give It

In life, anything we can do can be criticised. For as long as we can form opinions, and the opinion isn’t favourable, then we’re likely to dish out some criticism. That’s just what we humans do.

The difference, though, is in how you do it.

If, like the writing group leader lady, you just criticise something that someone did, then that’s fine and fair. You aren’t judging them, you are judging something they said or did. That’s good. If you criticise someone for something about who they are (like my brother did), then you’re likely to lose friends, and your criticism will probably be ignored completely. Throw in a compliment or two with your criticism (who can say no to the “compliment sandwich”?) and you’re good and ready.

The difference between helpful criticism an unhelpful criticism, is how you give it, and the intent.

When I criticised the pub, I was not criticising the pub nor the manager. I was criticising my experience. The pub itself was nice and I’m sure the manager is decent, too. It wasn’t about hurting him, it was about allowing potential paying customers to make a decision based on collective reviews. One bad review on TripAdvisor wouldn’t put me off of visiting an establishment, personally, but ten bad reviews on the first page might change my mind. Places like TripAdvisor require a huge level of honesty.

Most people do not set out to belittle you, nor do they set out to offend or upset you, and so it is important to try and see it that way. Criticism is not, generally, meant as a personal attack against you, but as negative feedback against the thing you did.

When we get criticised, it’s easy to overreact and lash out. Try not to let that be the case. Overreacting to criticism does nothing to preserve your credibility and is likely to make people refuse to give you an opinion again. Instead, smile and say thankyou, then decide exactly what you’re going to do with it.